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How do you manage the digital assets of a deceased loved one?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Administration & Probate

Although looking into these digital assets after losing a loved one can be a painful experience, it is important to manage these assets as soon as possible.

Digital assets refer to any online content, accounts or data owned or controlled by an individual. These assets can become inaccessible or even lost when the owner passes away. For example, their social media profiles may be deleted or memorialized. There are some instances when unauthorized persons may hack into these accounts and use them for fraud, too.

How can I access these digital assets?

If your loved one did not have a digital estate plan in place, it may be a bit difficult for you to access and manage these assets after they pass away. The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) only allows a person granted authority in a will to access certain digital assets. You may need to manage the rest of their digital life until the domains expire or close. Check their:

  • Social media profiles
  • Email accounts
  • Online banking and financial accounts
  • Digital storage accounts
  • Domain names and websites
  • Cryptocurrency accounts
  • Online memories stored on digital devices or in the cloud
  • Music, movies and other digital content

Be sure to include any usernames and passwords and any other information that you may need to access these accounts.

What if you do not know the passwords?

If you do not have access to the passwords for the deceased’s digital assets, here are some steps you can take:

  • Check if the deceased left a list of their passwords.
  • Check the deceased’s devices.
  • Contact the relevant companies. Some companies may have specific procedures for dealing with deceased users. They may ask you to provide a death certificate or other proof of death.
  • Hire a professional digital estate executive or a probate specialist who can help you navigate the process.

You may also consider using a digital estate planning tool, such as a digital vault or a password manager, to store and organize your loved one’s digital assets securely.

Not all digital assets may need to be managed

Note that you do not need to manage all digital assets, as some may be unnecessary or irrelevant. You should consider which assets are important to your loved one’s memory and legacy. Pick those that you can safely disregard.

Once you have determined which digital assets to manage, you should plan for how to secure and access them in the future, if needed. You may want to change their passwords and update their security questions. If you no longer need their accounts, it might be better just to close or delete them. If you keep them open, it would be wise to monitor their account activity to prevent fraud or unauthorized access.

In conclusion, managing the digital assets of a deceased loved one can be a complex and emotional process. However, it is a necessary step to ensure that their digital legacy is protected and respected. Remember to take your time, seek professional advice when needed and always prioritize your loved one’s memory and well-being.